Little girls dolled up with fake eyelashes, caked on makeup, fake teeth, spray-on tans and synthetic hair extensions may be inappropriate, but is it child abuse?
Some critics say TLC's "Toddlers and Tiaras" is exploitative and that the contestants' parents are verging on abusive.
Personally, I can't bear to watch the reality show, which just launched its third season, because I find the whole kiddie beauty pageant thing disturbing. I wouldn't want my young daughters to be judged on their appearances and to be sexualized at such an early age. But, then again, I can't stand bikinis on babies and hesitated before letting my girls playing with makeup , so I'm probably not the demographic for the show.
Based on the ratings, clearly, someone is tuning in to watch -- the second season of "Toddlers and Tiaras" averaged 1.3 million viewers each week.More...
In case you're not familiar with the show, it features tots as young as four as they prep and primp for glitzy, high-pressure kiddie beauty pageants. Viewers gawk as stage mothers pump their kids with energy drinks and the girls themselves strut around in skimpy outfits acting like mini-divas. Aside from TV stardom, the contestants are vying for a tiara, as well as $12,000 in cash and prizes.
Are the parents of these kids doing damage to them by exposing them to the competitive, sexualized world of beauty pageants at such a young age?
Some experts worry about the longterm psychological effects of being on the show. Others say that children aren't old enough to understand what it means to consent to participate in pageants and be filmed for TV.